Posts Tagged ‘benefits to reading’

A family reading children's books together.
My husband and I reading books with our son.

This past spring, my local thrift store offered a promotion where they gave away a free book to every child who walked through their doors on a specific day in April. While my son and I took advantage of the promotion, only later did I find out that this event was one of many planned across the nation the week of April 29 – May 5, 2019 in observation of Children’s Book Week! I had never heard of Children’s Book Week, but after doing a little research, I learned that this national literacy initiative was established in 1919 to celebrate children’s books and reading. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the initiative, and if you missed the spring celebration, you’re in luck! There is a second week of festivities planned in the fall, from November 4-10, 2019, during which schools, libraries, bookstores and more will offer events to cultivate and celebrate young readers.

Why is it important to encourage young people to read? First of all, reading to and with young children can help them learn language and early literacy skills. A recent study conducted at the Ohio State University, referred to as the “million word gap study”, found that children who are read five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than children who are not read to.

Secondly, researchers are discovering more and more how reading to and with young children can shape their social and emotional development. In a recent study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, researchers found that 3-year olds who were read books while waiting in a doctor’s office were significantly less likely to be aggressive or hyperactive than peers who were not read to. Furthermore, when researchers followed up with those children 18 months later, they found that the observed effects on their behavior had persisted.

When reading to and with children, adults can create opportunities to cultivate emotional intelligence and other positive behaviors in children. When adults pause while reading to ask questions about characters, children learn to think about how others feel and how their actions can impact others.

Books can be used to encourage other healthy habits in children, too. When I teach nutrition to preschoolers, I often use books to help expose children to healthy food(s) in a positive way. When children see friendly characters trying and enjoying new food, they may be more likely to do the same!

What healthy habits would you like to encourage in your children? Are there specific books you could use to help you do so? Whether you have certain books in mind or not, know that any time spent reading with the children in your life is time well spent. Check out these ideas for more fun ways to celebrate Children’s Book Week and cultivate young readers!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu


Barlage, L. (2019). What are you reading today? Live Healthy, Live Well, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/08/08/what-are-you-reading-today/

Every Child a Reader (2019). Children’s Book Week: 100th Anniversary Celebration Details. https://everychildareader.net/cbw/100th/

Klass, P. (2018). Reading aloud to young children has benefits for behavior and attention. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/well/family/reading-aloud-to-young-children-has-benefits-for-behavior-and-attention.html

Lindquist, S. (2012). Nutrition: Help kids eat better by reading children’s books. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/nutrition_help_kids_eat_better_by_reading_childrens_books

Science Daily (2019). A “million word gap” for children who aren’t read to at home. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404074947.htm

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I admit I am a book addict, and reading is by far my favorite hobby. If I miss more than one day of reading, I start to get grouchy. Reading relieves my stress. When I heard there was a “National Book Lovers Day”, I felt I had to share a few of the benefits that I find, and that research also supports.

If you are reading this you likely won’t say, “Why should I read?” You realize that while your brain is technically an organ, you can think of it like a muscle and if you don’t use it – you will lose it. This is important for all ages. The mental stimulation of reading prevents or slows the progression of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Research supports that reading just six minutes a day can reduce a person’s stress level by up to 68% (more than listening to music, playing video games, or going for a walk). Baby sitting on an adult's lap is looking at a book

Reading aloud to children, and even prenatally, can improve their language skills, build vocabulary, and prepare them to learn. There is strong research that shows children who read independently score higher on achievements tests and display more empathy. Remember that reading is contagious, if children see you reading books they are more likely to read books as well.

How to celebrate Book Lovers Day:

  • Visit the library – renew your library card, sign out regular books or e-books, or take part in a program.
  • Attend a book or author festival – while you probably won’t be able to do it this week, it may be an idea for your next vacation or girl’s trip. Several years ago I took a road trip with my daughter to Kentucky to an author event so she could meet a favorite author. It was interesting to meet the authors and we stocked up on books. There are all types of themes – children’s, romance, teens, or authors from a specific state, for example.
  • Give the gift of books – baby shower, birthday, secret pal, or even your parents. Books are a loved gift for people of all ages. You may need to do a little research to find out what they like before you shop or order.
  • Host or join a book club – but make sure you actually read at least some of the books.
  • Follow your favorite authors on social media – they often give books away and may actually be signing at a book store or library in your area. Birdhouse shaped book exchange cabinet
  • Reread a favorite book or read a classic you may have missed – reading it again may bring back memories from your youth. Look at a listing of classic (nonfiction, children’s, religious, historical, etc) books that everyone should read? How many have you read?
  • Donate books – donate used books to a non-profit, the hospital waiting room, the local book sale for scholarships, or an elementary school. Several teachers I know have asked for friends and family to sponsor a child in their class the last few years by giving the child their own new book for the start of the year.
  • Make sure you read the book before you watch the move – many movies are based on books, why not read it before you watch to see how close they are to the original.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas for ways to celebrate “National Book Lovers Day” or discover the benefits you experience from reading. I know my husband would probably comment that I read enough to have no stress at all.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.


University of California, Santa Barbara, https://geog.ucsb.edu/10-benefits-of-reading-why-you-should-read-every-day/.

Rasmussen College, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/.

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